The New Look Beauty Salon in Wallingford, owned by Emily Nguyen, provides many styling services, including the new digital perm technology that is all the rage in Japan. But none of this would have been possible if she hadn’t been able to escape the war and conflict in her native Vietnam.
“It was terrible, we are lucky we came here,” she said.
Nguyen left South Vietnam in 1990 because her father managed to survive imprisonment and get approval to leave the country. Most of her family were able to come with her.
“It was a really special situation because my dad was a Vietnamese soldier and he was in prison for 17 years,” she said. “After he left the prison we received a visa from the government that allowed my family to come with my dad.”
However, her sister and another brother did not join them. “They got married and they wouldn’t allow people who got married to leave,” said Nguyen.
Like many immigrants, Nguyen’s family had a rough start when they first entered the U.S. They left a lot of their belongings behind and had to rebuild their lives.
“It was so hard for my family…we had nothing, we were a poor family and my family had only $40 for starting a living,” she said.
Nguyen says that she was very fortunate to enter the U.S. and open a business so she can help her relatives back home.
“When you stay here you can help a lot of relatives in Vietnam,” she said.
Phiem Dang, Emily’s husband, entered the U.S. in 1975 as a refugee from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.
“I got here via an American warship, which was involved in a rescue operation
at the time,” he said.
They both settled here because they believed it was an opportune place to start married life. “I moved to Seattle because of its diversity and it’s also a good place to raise children,” said Dang.
Nguyen, however, was more attracted to the larger Asian community because it helped her mother feel more included.
“My parents like to live close to Asian people and at that time it was very hard to find people like us,” she said. “But when we came here we lived closer to Asian people and my mom had easier communication with them.”
After moving here, Nguyen decided to begin the process of opening a salon. She lived in China for a year in 1998 and trained to learn techniques for Asian hair texture. When she came back, she worked at different hair salons to obtain more experience.
“I had a plan to open a business,” she said. “After six years I opened the salon; this is my first business.”
The New Look Beauty Salon offers hair styling, facials, pedicures, waxing and other services. Nguyen believes her most unique service is the digital perm, a new technology developed in Japan that can create a variety of waves.
“That perm is not like old-fashioned perms,” she said. “It is very good for people who love to wear waves. It’s controlled by the computer so it curls evenly.”
Cori Dang is a regular customer at the New Look Beauty Salon and she highly recommends the digital perm.
“I first went to try it because they’re one of the few salons that do digital perms and they have competitive prices,” she said. “When I went in for a consultation she special ordered the perm rods for my application and the perm turned out exactly what I imagined!”
Dang says what she finds most appealing about the store is the quality of the service.
“It’s a hidden gem,” said Dang. “I usually go to the high-end salons, but have never found a stylist that was consistent. Since this is a small salon and owned by the main stylist, I know I’m getting taken care of.”
Emily Nguyen says she is very passionate about her work and she is proud to run the New Look Beauty Salon.
“I love the hair; I like to do things with beauty…that’s why when I open the store, I work every day,” she said. “I opened the shop because I can do it, I’m really glad I have the shop.”.